What makes something a difficult decision? I don’t label a lot of things as decisions because I always change my mind, and I’ve made peace with that part of me. I could make it very philosophical, but in this case, I’ll put myself in the shoes of the person who asked me the question to be able to give some advice.
If you make a decision, go for it! If you change your mind, go for it!
The moment you make a decision it doesn’t really matter if that is the ‘right’ decision. You’ll never know if something is the right decision until you’ve made it. You probably recognize this from mulling over something you’re going to do, maybe a social situation or a trip. You can plan and plan and plan but things never work out the way you thought they would work out. You’d say you’ve wasted a lot of time thinking about it right? There is a certain amount of thinking that is useful, after that, it gets wasteful. Only after the fact can you see if it was the ‘right’ decision. But if it wasn’t the right decision, you probably learned from it.
Talk to the people around you
But never do what they tell you to do. That might sound strange, but I’m serious. The only thing you want to discover while talking to someone about decision-making is what feeling it gives you. What feeling do you get when you explain door number one, and what feeling do you get when you talk about door number two. Your intuition KNOWS. It really does. The problem is, our minds are very loud. It might be more practical to take door number one but it would not give you any energy. Door number two sounds scary but exciting. In this case, door number two should be the obvious choice. Is door number two too scary? Maybe you could talk to this person about options how to get to door number two in less scary ways.
The person you are talking to might not be the dreamer you are and tell you all about the sense it makes to choose door number one. But the more they talk, the more you sag. You feel the energy draining. You feel anxiety, and not in a good way. If they do support your more difficult but more exciting choice, you’ll feel opportunity, you see more options, and you’ll feel energized to go ahead and try.
So don’t ever do what they tell you to do but feel what you feel when you talk to them. If this is something that is super difficult for you, try to train this sense of intuition. Try it on the smaller stuff. Ask someone; what do you think I should eat? Sushi or hamburgers? If they say hamburgers and you really wanted sushi you immediately feel it. Thank them for their input and do your own thing. You could even ask someone to do this knowingly. You don’t have to trick them into practicing with you. Just ask them to help you. They’d love to. I assure you.
If you’ve always tried to please people in whatever you do or choice you make, you’ll be afraid your new choice might hurt someone in some way. If people care about you, and they probably do, they’ll want you to be happy. Really. If that means you have to move to the other side of the planet, they’ll cheer you on. This is the right choice for you and they should support that choice. As long as you don’t purposely hurt them, they should deal with their own feelings of sadness about you leaving. Metaphorically or literally.
A Pro and Con list
I’ve really never been a fan of this method. For some people this works great. But the Pro and Con list is mostly about factual stuff and not feeling stuff. Your brain is so focust on protecting you, so your list of Cons might be full of unrealistic fears or unimportant details.
It could help you figure out what a certain choice entails, and that might help you see the bigger picture, but leave it at that. Don’t look at the length of the list. If the list of Cons is huge but full of unimportant things, one Pro should win over this Cons list if it feels like the right thing to do.
Does it help the people you love?
“If I go for door number two, I’m abandoning the people I love”. That might be true. But your happiness is most important in your life. If helping these people makes you unhappy in any way you will not be able to keep up with that forever. You might get sick yourself (mentally or physically) and become ‘useless’ to anyone. Or you say: yes but I’m the only one that can do it. You’re probably not. It might feel like you’re the only one that can do it but if you look further, you’ll find other options. Ask yourself, do you want to be unhappy in helping the people you (should) love or be happy and help many others. There are always options. And if helping these loved ones makes you truly happy, there is no problem but since you’re reading this, it’s probably not making you happy so go and find other options for them and most of all, for you. A happy person adds much more value to their surroundings than an unhappy person.
Forgive yourself for ‘wrong’ choices
If you’ve made ‘the choice’ and regret it: Pivot. Figure out what made this choice the wrong choice and change paths. It’s fine. If you wanted to go into teaching but hate the school you work at, is it the school system? Is it the kids? Is it the colleagues? Is it the location? You don’t have to quit teaching but try a different school, a different age group. Start the process again and feel what feels right. Accept that there was a reason for this choice and discover what was right about it this time and what went wrong. Maybe you just got some bad luck this time. If you discover that you really miss what you did before you made this choice, figure out what it is you miss and focus on that. Don’t run back to your old situation because it feels safe. There are other options.
And just try and try again. You’ll get better at recognizing this sense of rightness and you’ll get older. Everything will be fine. Just don’t stay in a bad situation for too long because like Einstein said: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.